This past Saturday is probably the closest thing I've had thus far that I can claim to be an adventure.
The participants: myself, Liz (fellow Brown student, OTS participant, and Spanish language attempter) and Mauricio (all-knowledgeable Costa Rican native, master of transportation, roommate of my friend Kyle).
The goal: To enjoy a day at Playa Manuel Antonio, a beach within reasonable distance of San Jose and touted by local Ticos as one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.
It started out fairly simple. Mauricio picked Liz and I up in San Pedro and we set out onto the San Jose - Caldera highway, whose construction was "started" in the 70's, but only completed last March (the Costa Rican government's Achilles heel seems to be all matters involving roads- building them, maintaining them, naming them, etc). The highway gave me a very interesting look at the Costa Rican landscape. I got to pass beautiful mountain vistas, the sparkling Pacific Ocean, and at one point, we even drove through a palm tree farm:
It felt like being in the midwest, except all the corn was replaced with palm trees. Strange.
We ended up getting to Manuel Antonio later than we had expected. We first did some investigating to figure out if we could walk to the quieter beaches over the rocks on the edge of the public beach.
When getting to the quieter beaches this way seemed to require being able to jump 20 feet over open water, we headed straight to the national forest for access... which apparently was closing in one hour. But our spirits could not be dampened!! We would make it to the beach or bust!
We started walking out along the trail. Theme of the day: Things take a lot longer than you would expect them to. Liz and I were entertained by Mauricio's constant exclaimations of "Oh my god, is this trail STILL going?"
BUT WE MADE IT TO THE BEACH! Who cares if we only got to swim for half an hour- in my mind, it was worth it. The view was gorgeous, and the water was clear and warm. A perfect half hour. Oh, and did I mention the monkeys?
They collected on the edge of the forest to scavenge for food (or be fed it by tourists). I gave them an empty cookie bag that was lying around so I could take a better picture, but I think they were a little mad when they realized they'd been duped. To give you a picture of how close they were, here's a picture of one of my monkey friends, right before he tried to raid my backpack:
After leaving the park unwillingly, we concluded our short visit to Manuel Antonio with cocktails while we watched the sunset. Delicioso.
I'd love to say that was the whole adventure, but that was only about half of it. On the return trip home, part of the highway was blocked off, and we had to resort to taking the serpentine old highway through the mountains.
The most interesting/terrifying part of the trip probably occurred when we realized we were almost out of gas, and there were no signs of civilization. Panic crept in slowly, with each of us thinking we would end up having to pull the car over and sleep on the side of the road for the night (ok, a little melodramatic, I know). But before we got a chance to resort to cannibalism, we found a gas station. Whew!
After all this adventure, we were exhausted and starving. Time for a sumptuous meal of the highest standards.
We went to Wendy's.
At the end of the day, though, I can only say positive things about the trip. Every part of it was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to a lot of similar adventures during the months I'll be in this country.